One of the important components of making music especially contemporary music is the piano, and for church folks, it has a way of creating a solemn ambiance. Some years back, the preferred sound type setup for this type of atmosphere was strings, but the tables have shifted and musicians are now exploring more keyboard sound types to create beautiful and melodious tones. In setting up a piano mix, some things have to first be considered. And at the end of this write up i will give my preferred slow song (worship session) setup.
NB: THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO HAVE A SOUND MIX JUST GET WHAT YOU WANT.
1: Sound Family/group
There is such a thing as a sound or tone family. It is the sound type or category which the sounds belongs to. For example the brass, trumpet, and saxophone all belong to the same family of “Horns” while the fantasia, analog, warm, sweet heaven etc all belong to the family of pad. There is a rule i usually use that works at least 80% of times and i call it the “family-space-rule”. It states that
a mix should have just one tone of the same family except you have a type of sound you want to create.
This simply means you should not have both analog and warm pad in the same mix. Let the sound choices spread out rather than too muddy or too squeaky.
2: Volume of mix
A good mix can be rendered void if the volume is not well positioned. There are some families that are supposed to be higher than others. I am sure you would have been in a service where the sound gets so muddy and lacks refinement because it contains too much sad tones like pads and strings, making the sounds overlap. The volume of sound must be considered, for example, based on percentage, it is better to have a 40% grand piano, 20% pads, 10% bells, 10% strings,10% guitar, 10% soft horn.(NB: this is always based on choice), this is because of sound production, if some of this sound type goes far higher, it can make the sound output not clear or too squeaky (producing a high pitched sound). Well, just as i said earlier, its based on choice and what you want to achieve.
3: Understand the model of the Keyboard you are using
It should also be noted that the type and model of the keyboard you are using affects the entire production. The same setup will not produce the same output in different models and type of keyboard. For example, this setup sounds different when imputed in a Yamaha Montage and a Korg Kronos. I have tried it myself, so always understand the type of machine being used.
4: READ THE MANUAL
“They say when you want to hide information from a black man, put it in a book”
We need to always try to read even when we think we know it. Trust me, every new manual you read, you tend to learn a new thing especially the new century pianos. Some things are possible but we don’t know about it all because we don’t read. Make a promise to yourself that you will read the manual of every piano you buy especially modern ones.
Finally i will give my preferred setup for playing slow music (worship session) in a Yamaha Montage 8 :
- Full concert Grand Piano — 40%
- Ice bell — 10%
- Analog pad — 20%
- PMW stabs — 10%
- slow strings — 10%
- natural guitar — 10%
Let us know your thoughts about sound type mix and what you have observed. Do not also forget to share your thoughts and preferred Sound type setup in the comment section below.